AL SHORTA ONE WIN AWAY FROM THE FINAL AFTER NARROW VICTORY
Al Shorta must now defeat Naft Al Wasat on Friday to book their place in the 2014-15 Iraqi Premier League Final after Ahmed Ayad's early goal secured a tight 1-0 win over eliminated Baghdad S.C.
The goal came in the fourth minute of the match when Dhurgham Ismail bombed down the left wing and put the ball across the goal; it fortunately bounced towards Ahmed Ayad after taking a deflection and the former Iraq international put the ball into the open net to make it 1-0.
Al Shorta had further chances through Mahdi Kamil and Alaa Abdul-Zahra in the first half but almost gave away a penalty on the brink of half time when the ball struck Mahdi Kamil's hand inside the box, but the referee deemed it to be ball-to-hand and play continued. Captain Amjad Kalaf was taken off before half-time due to an injury but he should be fit to face Naft Al Wasat.
The second half was eventful to say the least. Al Shorta's Waleed Salem earned two yellow cards in as many minutes as he was sent off on 65 minutes, whilst Ahmed Fadhel (who is on loan from to Baghdad S.C. from Al Shorta) was also sent off for two yellow cards with seven minutes of normal time remaining (this was his second red card against Al Shorta this season) as both sides ended with ten men.
Al Shorta had the best chance of the second half when Marwan Hussein's left foot effort was well saved by Saqr Ajeel and Dhurgham blasted the rebound over the bar. Al Shorta held on to their one-goal lead throughout the rest of the game and are now sitting in second spot in Group 1 with ten points, a point behind Naft Al Wasat. If Al Shorta defeat Naft Al Wasat on Friday at Al Shaab Stadium, they will overtake them and qualify for the final.
MARWAN HITS ANOTHER HAT-TRICK AS AL SHORTA ROMP TO ANOTHER 4-1 VICTORY OVER RIVALS
Al Shorta stormed to another 4-1 win over Al Zawraa at Al Shaab Stadium to put pressure on Naft Al Wasat at the top of Group 1, with league topscorer Marwan Hussein becoming the first player to score two hat-tricks against Al Zawraa in one season.
Al Shorta were in control of the game right from the off and almost opened the scoring less than minute into the game when Ahmed Ayad expertly controlled Marwan's headed pass and then flashed a powerful volley towards Al Zawraa 'keeper Alaa Gatea who managed to tip it over his crossbar. Just over two minutes later Al Shorta went close again when Waleed Salem curled a free-kick inches over the bar, and a minute later captain Amjad Kalaf almost scored his first league goal of the season to make it 1-0 when he headed wide.
Al Shorta missed a golden chance in the 22nd minute when Alaa Abdul-Zahra saw his header from just a few yards out saved by Alaa Gatea, but Al Shorta consistently threatened Al Zawraa's goal and an opener seemed imminent. That opener came from the resulting corner, with Dhurgham swinging the ball into the box; the cross had so much swerve on it that it curled straight into the Al Zawraa net to put Al Shorta into the lead. It can be called fluky, lucky, brilliant or skilful but the fact was that Dhurgham had given Al Shorta a deserved lead and the champions never looked back from that moment on.
Just a few minutes later (in the 26th minute) Al Shorta almost made it two when the lively Dhurgham put the ball across the box; the 'keeper missed it and all it needed was a touch from Alaa for it to roll into the empty net but Alaa failed to make contact with the ball resulting in another missed chance for the eventual winners of the game.
The best goal of the four was arguably scored in the 37th minute when Al Shorta scored a lovely team goal. Marwan received the ball not too far from the centre circle and flicked it past the Al Zawraa defender to Alaa Abdul-Zahra. The Iraq international forward controlled it and then kicked the ball over his head, playing the overlapping Dhurgham Ismail through. Dhurgham controlled the ball from the air brilliantly with one touch and played the ball across the box right to Marwan, the man who had really started the move off; he then finished the move off with a first time effort past Alaa Gatea to make it 2-0 to the Police.
The second-half started and the brilliant Al Shorta supporters in the stadium barely had time to blink before witnessing Marwan bag another goal. The assist fell to Salam Shakir, who played a brilliant lofted through ball towards Marwan who controlled it fantastically with his heel and lifted the ball over the 'keeper to make it three. Both the assister and the goalscorer of this goal will be leaving Al Shorta and moving to Saudi Arabia at the end of the season.
Just two minutes later, Al Shorta sensationally made it 4-0 when Dhurgham's low ball across the box was tapped in by Marwan Hussein who became the first player in history to score two hat-tricks against Al Zawraa in the same season. Al Zawraa's manager Emad Mohammed looked on in shock, amid a lot of pressure being put on the Al Zawraa board by their fans to sack the legend from his post.
Al Shorta took their foot off the gas after this goal and stand-in goalkeeper Saif Jameel Flayyih gave away a careless penalty just before the hour-mark by bringing down an Al Zawraa player in the box from behind. The 'keeper saved the resulting penalty by Ali Saad but he had come way off of his line in order to do so and the referee ordered for the penalty to be re-taken; this time Ali Saad made no mistake from the spot as Al Zawraa managed to score a consolation goal and make it 4-1.
Just a few minutes later, Al Shorta almost restored their four-goal lead when Amjad Kalaf ran through on goal but his clever near-post effort unfortunately rebounded off the post and captain Amjad remains searching for his first league goal this season after suffering a long-term injury not too long ago. The game still had time for another major event though as Al Zawraa were reduced to ten men in the 77th minute when goalkeeper Alaa Gatea brought down Amjad Kalaf just outside the box in a last-man situation.
Al Shorta are now sitting in second place in Group 1 with seven points, three points off the leaders Naft Al Wasat, but will most likely reach the final if they can secure victories in their last two final stage games against Baghdad S.C. and Naft Al Wasat.
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AL SHORTA LOSE GRIP ON TITLE AS FIRST DEFEAT SEES THEM DROP TO SECOND PLACE
Al Shorta's dreams of becoming only the third side to win the Iraqi Premier League undefeated were dashed on Tuesday as Naft Al Wasat severely dented their hopes of winning the title with a 1-0 victory at An Najaf Stadium.
The match was overshadowed by the disgraceful actions of Naft Al Wasat coach Abdul Ghani during the first-half where he attempted to attack some of the officials as well as some of Al Shorta's staff on the touchline; he was rightly sent off for his actions.
The only goal of the game came in the 36th minute when Faris Hassoun saw his well-taken half-volley from just inside the box hit the back of the net.
Al Shorta had plenty of chances throughout the game to equalise and even to go on and win the game but the likes of Marwan Hussein, Amjad Kalaf and Akram Jassim failed to make the most of their opportunities in what was a rough, and at times ugly, encounter at An Najaf Stadium (a stadium which is certainly not fit to be hosting such important games).
The poor pitch surface in Najaf made it almost impossible for Al Shorta to play their usual, slick, free-flowing passing football and they resorted to long balls in an attempt to salvage something from the game, a tactic which Naft Al Wasat were able to deal with.
The game was almost called off at half-time with some supporters in the stadium rioting and causing chaos during the interval but at the last moment the referee decided to continue the game, which saw Al Shorta fall to their first league defeat of the season.
Al Shorta are in a bad spell of form right now having not scored in three consecutive competitive games; the four-time Iraqi League champions are now sitting in second place in Group 1, three points behind Naft Al Wasat, and will need to make up that gap and top the group to keep alive their hopes of a third straight league title.
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AL SHORTA CRASH OUT OF AFC CUP WITH ROUND OF 16 DEFEAT TO AL KUWAIT S.C.
Al Kuwait S.C. scored two late goals, including a controversial penalty, to knock Al Shorta out of the 2015 AFC Cup in Doha on Wednesday.
Al Shorta had the better chances throughout the game, including two glorious chances for striker Marwan Hussein; the first was a tame header into the 'keeper's arms in the first-half before he blazed the ball over from close range in the second-half.
Alaa Abdul-Zahra also missed a great chance at the start of the second-half, hitting a half-volley just wide of the post.
Al Shorta were made to pay for their missed chances when Al Kuwait S.C. won a penalty with ten minutes left on the clock after goalkeeper Mohammed Gassid's careless foul. It was a controversial decision as it seemed that there was only minimal contact, if any at all, between Gassid and the Al Kuwait S.C. attacker but the penalty was awarded and man of the match Abdullah Al Buraiki smashed it to the 'keeper's right to put the three-time champions in front.
Al Shorta pushed men forward in the final minutes and almost found an equaliser to take the game to extra-time when substitute Amjad Kalaf ran through but his shot was blocked, and Al Kuwait S.C. clinically counter-attacked in the final minute with Rogerio de Assis Coutinho sprinting through on goal and rounding Gassid before tapping home as the game ended 2-0 to the away side.
Al Shorta will be disappointed to have been knocked out at the round of 16 stage, but it represents progress as they only managed to finish third in their group last year. Al Shorta will now need to focus on winning the league and clinching a third straight AFC Cup spot where they will hope to win the tournament for the first time.
AL SHORTA DRAW BLANK AGAINST BAGHDAD S.C. IN DULL GROUP 1 ENCOUNTER
Al Shorta failed to find the net against a dogged Baghdad S.C. side on Friday, just five days after putting four past Al Zawraa, as the Police maintained their position at the top of Group 1 in the Iraqi Premier League Final Stage.
Al Shorta looked more likely to score all game long and came closest to finding the net on 31 minutes when an unmarked Caion headed straight at the 'keeper from a few yards out and Dhurgham Ismail fired a volley over the bar just seconds later.
The champions went very close yet again in the 52nd minute when Marwan Hussein and Alaa Abdul-Zahra both ran for the same ball as they ran through on goal; their dawdling allowed Baghdad S.C. 'keeper Jalal Hassan to push the ball away before either striker could make contact.
Al Shorta had another good chance with less than ten minutes of the game remaining when Makadji Boukar's close-range effort from Marwan's cut-back was comfortably gathered by Jalal Hassan.
Despite having the better of the game, Al Shorta found themselves on the back foot in the final few minutes, with Al Shorta's Syrian defender Hamdy Al-Massri being sent off for a second bookable offence as he obstructed a Baghdad S.C, player who was on a dangerous attack.
Although the Police enjoyed a lot of good chances throughout the game, it was in truth a fairly dull encounter which many fans blame the pitch surface at Al Shaab Stadium for; Al Shorta could never really get into their quick passing rhythm with the ball bobbling around on almost every short pass.
This draw and Naft Al Wasat's 2-1 victory over Al Zawraa means Al Shorta are still on top of Group 1, ahead of Naft Al Wasat on goal difference. Al Shorta's next game is a crucial AFC Cup round of 16 match with Al Kuwait S.C. in Qatar before they travel back to Iraq to face Naft Al Wasat in another important game, and Al Shorta are still undefeated in the 2014-15 Iraqi League.
MARWAN BAGS HAT-TRICK AGAINST FORMER CLUB AS CHAMPIONS AL SHORTA HAMMER RIVALS AL ZAWRAA
League top scorer Marwan Hussein scored a clinical hat-trick as Al Shorta took a step closer to their third consecutive title by thrashing city rivals Al Zawraa by four goals to one in the first round of the Iraqi Premier League Final Stage.
Being the first derby between the sides since October 2013, the match was hyped as one of the most important games of the season, and Al Zawraa took the lead just over half-an-hour into the game when experienced Iraqi defender Haidar Abdul-Amir headed the ball over the onrushing 'keeper Mohammed Gassid from a free-kick.
Al Shorta managed to grab a crucial equaliser on the stroke of half-time however when former Al Zawraa striker Marwan Hussein fired the ball into the top corner from almost 20 yards out. The second-half saw the champions begin to dominate proceedings and they took a deserved lead on 62 minutes when Salam Shakir's long ball found Marwan Hussein who clinically finished into the bottom-left corner of the net.
The momentum was with Al Shorta, but soon after the goal the spotlights at Al Shaab Stadium went out causing the game to be halted for almost thirty minutes. Despite that, within seven minutes of the restart of the game Al Shorta had added another when substitute and captain Amjad Kalaf received the ball from full-back Waleed Salem, cut in and put the ball on a plate for Marwan Hussein who placed the ball home to cap off a fine hat-trick. The Iraq international refused to celebrate scoring any of the goals as respect for his former club Al Zawraa.
Al Zawraa began attacking in search of a goal but Al Shorta always looked more dangerous on the counter-attack and two minutes later the score was 4-1 to the Police when Dhurgham Ismail raced through on goal and placed the ball into the far corner to spark wild celebrations in the national stadium.
The full-time whistle was soon blown as Al Shorta won the game with a crushing 4-1 scoreline and moved to the top of Group 1 with the other Group 1 game between Baghdad S.C. and Naft Al Wasat ending 1-1. Al Shorta's new manager Thair Jassam now has two wins from two and will be hoping he can lift the Iraqi League trophy with Al Shorta for the second time in three years.
AL SHORTA THRASH AL JAZEERA TO QUALIFY FOR ROUND OF 16 AT TOP OF GROUP
Al Shorta reached the AFC Cup knockout stage for the first time with a 4-0 demolition of Jordanian side Al Jazeera, who also join the Police in the next round, in new manager Thair Jassam's first game in his second spell in charge of the club.
Al Shorta came into the game knowing a victory would see them top the group, and opened the scoring early on when the club's top scorer Marwan Hussein fired in after Alaa Abdul-Zahra's headed assist. Al Shorta survived a scare late on in the first-half when Al Jazeera went through on goal but the shot flew both wide and over.
Brazilian striker Caion scored his second goal of the season in the 50th minute to double Al Shorta's lead when his header hit the inside of the post and just crossed the line, with Marwan Hussein sealing the victory a few minutes later when he stole the ball from a defender and ran towards goal, calmly placing the ball over the onrushing 'keeper.
Iraq international full-back Waleed Salem added gloss to the scoreline with fourteen minutes remaining with a stunning long-range effort that swerved towards the goal and struck the underside of the crossbar before deflecting off of the goalkeeper's back into the net.
Ahmed Ayad almost made it 5-0 to Al Shorta soon afterwards only for his effort to hit the crossbar, but the full-time whistle soon blew to signify that Al Shorta and Thair Jassam had qualified to the round of 16 on top of Group B; 'Al Qeetharah' will play either Al Kuwait S.C. or Al Jaish in the next round in Qatar.
AL SHORTA AWARDED 3-0 VICTORY IN FINAL GAME OF THE FIRST STAGE
Al Shorta were awarded a 3-0 victory against Duhok by the Iraqi Football Association (IFA) on Tuesday after Duhok failed to turn up to Al Karkh Stadium for their scheduled Group 2 game with the champions.
Duhok requested to the IFA for the game to be postponed days before the match due to it clashing with an important Kurdistan Premier League match that Duhok were participating in. Also, Duhok claimed that they did not have enough finances to fund travelling to Baghdad, booking a hotel there and then travelling back to Duhok (it is no secret that the club are currently in a sticky financial situation).
When the IFA refused to change the date of the game, Duhok decided not to play the game as the match itself was quite meaningless anyway (Al Shorta were guaranteed to finish in first position and Duhok were almost guaranteed to finish fourth before the game). Therefore, when Duhok did not turn up for the game, the IFA decided to award Al Shorta a 3-0 win and to fine Duhok for their actions.
Although Duhok considered the match to be meaningless, it certainly had meaning for Al Shorta who are currently on a quest to become the third team in Iraqi football history to win the league without losing a single game. Al Shorta fans will be relieved that they have been granted the victory as this means that their unbeaten run remains intact and the team avoids any unnecessary injuries.
The first stage of the league is now over, with Al Quwa Al Jawiya, Al Zawraa, Naft Al Junoob, Naft Al Wasat, Al Shorta, Al Minaa, Baghdad S.C. and Duhok qualifying for the final stage. The IFA will conduct the draw for the final stage within the next few days.
AL SHORTA TAKE STEP CLOSER TO KNOCKOUT ROUND DESPITE ANOTHER DRAW AT AL HIDD
Al Shorta are now just one win away from topping their group and reaching the AFC Cup round of 16 for the first time as Makadji Boukar's late equaliser earned Al Shorta a well-deserved point at bottom-of-the-group Al Hidd.
Al Shorta, playing their fourth away game in a row, looked the more dangerous side throughout the entire game. A swerving long-range effort by Al Shorta starlet Dhurgham Ismail on 35 minutes was well-saved by Al Hidd goalkeeper Abbas Ahmed, however the biggest chance of the opening period fell to Al Hidd's Ifedayo Omosuyi whose close-range header was brilliantly saved by Al Shorta custodian Mohammed Gassid.
Al Shorta continued their domination into the second-half and had Marwan Hussein run through on goal only to be hacked down on the edge of the area by Abbas Ahmed; the Al Shorta players were shocked when the referee pulled out a yellow card for the 'keeper rather than a red as it was a last-man situation as well as a goalscoring opportunity. The resulting free-kick by Dhurgham was saved by Abbas Ahmed who really should not have been on the field in the first place.
Al Shorta had another great chance on 73 minutes when Caion's header struck the outside of the post, but, completely against the run of play, Ifedayo Omosuyi put the home side in front four minutes later after advancing towards the edge of the penalty area and sending a low shot past Gassid.
Six minutes later though, Al Shorta responded with a deserved equaliser when Cameroonian midfielder Makadji Boukar converted Ammar Abdulhusain's deflected cut-back from close range.
This draw represents Al Shorta's fourth draw from four games against Al Hidd in recent times after sharing two goalless draws with them in last season's AFC Cup and drawing 2-2 with the Bahraini team earlier in this year's competition. It also represents Al Shorta's fourth winless game in a row in all competitions: a worrying sign indeed.
Al Shorta now sit in second place in Group B, three points behind Al Jazeera; if the Police defeat Al Jazeera they will overtake them and top the group due to their head-to-head record with the Jordanian side. However, Taraji Wadi Al Nes sit just one point away from Al Shorta with Al Hidd two points behind the Iraqi champions, so a draw or a defeat against Al Jazeera could see Al Shorta knocked out of the AFC Cup group stages for the second consecutive year.
NINE-MAN AL SHORTA AVOID DEFEAT AGAIN AS LAST-GASP EQUALISER RESCUES POINT
League topscorer Marwan Hussein's injury-time finish preserved Al Shorta's unbeaten league record this season and capped a fine comeback from 2-0 down against Al Naft with the champions having nine men for the majority of the game.
Former Al Shorta player Mustafa Jawda put the home side in front with a great free-kick on 12 minutes, and right at the end of the first-half, Al Shorta defender Karrar Muhammed received a second yellow card for a clumsy foul and was sent off. To make things worse, Al Shorta's Alaa Abdul-Zahra's insulting of the referee earned himself a straight red card just a minute later, leaving the Police with nine-men for the entire second-half, and a goal down.
And Al Naft eventually capitalised on their advantage by doubling their lead through another former Al Shorta player, Abbas Hussain Ruhaima, whose long-range effort found a way past Mohammed Gassid and into the net on 74 minutes.
With just sixteen minutes of normal time remaining and Al Shorta having two fewer players on the field than their opponents, the game looked sealed and it seemed as if Al Shorta's unbeaten run in the league this season would finally be over. But Al Shorta had other ideas.
Within five minutes of Abbas Hussain Ruhaima's goal, Al Shorta won a penalty after an Al Naft defender handled in the area. Dhurgham Ismail confidently stepped up and slotted home to put a comeback on the cards.
Al Naft defended well though and, four minutes into injury time, it was still 2-1. However, just as the referee was set to end the game, Marwan Hussein picked up a sloppy back-pass and burst through on goal, slamming the ball into the bottom-left corner with the last kick of the game and sending Al Shorta's players and fans into delirium. Marwan is now the league's outright top scorer this season with nine goals and has scored in five consecutive league games.
Al Shorta showed the entire country why they are the champions in this game - they refused to give up despite being both 2-0 down and two men down with fifteen minutes remaining on the clock. If Al Shorta do achieve the unthinkable and go a whole season unbeaten for the second time in their history, fans will look back to this match as a true demonstration of the team's will to succeed.
However, there is still no hiding from the fact that Al Shorta have gone three games without a win now and they will need to end that streak on Tuesday in their crucial AFC Cup group game with Bahraini side Al Hidd.
AL SHORTA EARN POINT AT DUHOK TO EXTEND UNBEATEN LEAGUE RUN TO FOURTEEN GAMES
Al Shorta drew 2-2 at Duhok Stadium for the second straight season as Muhammed Zuhair's late equaliser ensured that Duhok have all but qualified for the final stage alongside the Police.
Group 2 leaders and reigning league champions Al Shorta took an early lead when league topscorer Marwan Hussein was put through on goal; the Iraq international clinically slammed the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
Duhok equalised within five minutes as some poor defending allowed Zyad Ahmed the freedom to chest down a cross and finish into the bottom-left corner.
Al Shorta had dominated the first-half despite being the away side and deservedly regained their lead when defender Karrar Muhammed scored his first ever goal for Al Shorta with a well-taken header into the top corner.
However, Al Shorta's performance dropped after that goal, most likely due to fatigue (the players had travelled from Baghdad to Amman, then to Al-Ram, then back to Amman, then to Erbil and then to Duhok within the space of just over a week). This decline in performance contributed to Duhok levelling the scores with nine minutes remaining when goalkeeper Mohammed Gassid ran out to meet the ball from a corner but failed to punch it clear and Muhammed Zuhair was presented with an open-goal finish as the game ended at 2-2.
The roles were reversed from last season when it was Al Shorta who levelled the game with a late equaliser through Mustafa Kareem's header. The Police are already guaranteed of finishing top of Group 2, so at this point wins are not a necessity, until the beginning of the final stage. However, Al Shorta will want to avoid defeat in their two remaining Group 2 games in order to keep alive their hopes of achieving an unbeaten league season that has only been achieved three times in Iraqi football history.
SHOCKING MOHAMMED HAMEED ERROR CONDEMNS AL SHORTA TO EMBARRASSING DEFEAT
Mohammed Hameed's terrible error condemned a poor Al Shorta side to a humiliating first defeat of the season at AFC Cup debutants Taraji Wadi Al Nes, who claimed their first ever win in an AFC competition in the process.
Al Shorta, suffering from fatigue after a long, delayed journey to Palestine, were missing goalkeeper Mohammed Gassid who was not allowed into the country due to passport issues, so Mohammed Hameed started in goal for the Iraqi champions; nobody expected that that would make such a huge difference on the outcome of the game.
Al Shorta started the game slowly, with Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Marwan Hussein both failing to hit the back of the net with headers in the first-half.
Taraji Wadi Al Nes, who Al Shorta destroyed 6-2 last month in Qatar, scored the only goal of the game with seven minutes remaining when Sameeh Yousef's weak free-kick bounced towards Hameed; the 'keeper elected to try and bend down and catch the ball rather than dive to collect it and embarrassingly let it slip through his hands as the ball bounced through his legs and into the net. It was another poor mistake from the 'keeper who made a big mistake in Iraq's game with the United Arab Emirates at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup too.
Al Shorta almost equalised right at the death but Alaa saw his half-volley crash against the crossbar and the referee blew the final whistle, sparking wild celebrations from the pitch, bench and crowd as the Palestinian side claimed their first ever win in an AFC competition.
Al Shorta fully deserved the embarrassing defeat for a poor performance, and now drop down to second place behind Al Jazeera of Jordan in Group B of the AFC Cup. Although Al Shorta's near 10-month unbeaten run has come to an end, they are still favourites to win the league title having not lost a league game all season.
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DOMINANT AL SHORTA RECORD BIGGEST WIN OF THE SEASON TO EXTEND UNBEATEN RUN
Reigning Iraqi League champions Al Shorta put four past lowly Al Hudod at Al Shaab Stadium, making it eleven wins from thirteen games this season in the league.
Al Shorta's top scorer Marwan Hussein opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark with one of the goals of the season: a spectacular overhead kick from inside the area. Fellow Iraq international Alaa Abdul-Zahra made it two at the start of the second-half with a long-range strike that was fortunately fumbled into the net by the Al Hudod 'keeper.
Al Shorta dominated their opponents all through the game, with Brazilian substitute Caion missing a golden chance to grab his second goal of the season around the hour-mark when he fired a cut-back wide.
Young Mahdi Kamil made up for the missed opportunity by getting Al Shorta's third goal on 74 minutes with a clever, instinctive near-post finish, and stand-in captain Dhurgham Ismail scored his 19th ever goal for Al Shorta to make it 4-0, firing into the bottom-left corner of the net with six minutes of normal time remaining, seconds after Marwan Hussein had missed an open-goal opportunity from Dhurgham's cut-back.
It was a comfortable game and great result for Al Shorta: the type of match that they have been used to playing this season. Al Shorta sit proudly on top of Group 2 with 35 points from 13 games, having conceded only three league goals all season. The Police have not lost a competitive match in almost ten months.
CAION ASSISTS TWO GOALS AS AL SHORTA CONTINUE UNBEATEN RUN THIS SEASON
Al Shorta returned to Iraqi League action by brushing aside Naft Misan at Al Shaab Stadium, recording their second 3-0 victory over the side this season.
The champions had to wait until the 60th minute to open the scoring when Haider Salem's pinpoint cross was met by the head of Marwan Hussein, who with this headed goal became Al Shorta's outright top scorer in all competitions this season, having scored eight goals so far.
Caion was subbed on during the second-half and made an instant impact, playing Ammar Abdulhusain through on goal in the 83rd minute; Ammar fired the ball in with his left foot to score his first goal for the club and double Al Shorta's lead.
Young Akram Jassim sealed the emphatic victory in the last minute, running onto the end of Caion's clever through ball and lobbing the ball over the onrushing 'keeper for his second goal of the season.
This three points ensures that Al Shorta will top Group 2 of the first stage no matter what, and the four-time champions currently have 32 points from 12 games, having not lost a single game yet this season in all competitions.
AL SHORTA THRASH PALESTINIAN SIDE IN FIRST AFC CUP WIN THIS SEASON
Al Shorta hit six past Palestinian club Taraji Wadi Al Nes in a 6-2 victory that puts the Iraqi champions two points clear at the top of Group B in the AFC Cup.
Both sides drew their first two games, but Taraji Wadi Al Nes were second best for the whole 90 minutes on Tuesday after travelling to Doha to face the Iraqi giants.
The rout began on twenty minutes when Dhurgham Ismail, who received the ball from a great lofted pass by the brilliant Mahdi Kamil, crossed the ball in for Alaa Abdul-Zahra to convert.
Fourteen minutes later, captain Amjad Kalaf doubled Al Shorta’s lead when he outpaced Mohammed Abu Khamis and rounded the ‘keeper before tapping the ball into the back of the net. Within 60 seconds of Amjad’s goal, Alaa had scored his second and had made it 3-0, lashing a brilliant effort into the net on the half-volley.
The 40th minute of the game saw Al Shorta concede a goal against the run of play as their complacency led to Fadi Zidan running through on goal and lobbing Mohammed Gassid in goal, but Al Shorta quickly restored their three-goal lead when another Dhurgham cross was converted, this time by Iraq international Marwan Hussein.
Two minutes into the second-half, Amjad Kalaf won a penalty but Mahdi Kareem could only hit the post from twelve yards out; Al Shorta only had to wait sixteen minutes for their fifth goal though as Dhurgham evaded a number of defenders before coolly slotting the ball home in what was a fantastic solo goal.
Four minutes from time, a poor piece of defending by Salam Shakir allowed Fadi Zidan to score his second goal of the game and make it 5-2, rolling the ball through the legs of Mohammed Gassid.
But Marwan scored Al Shorta’s sixth goal in injury time when he got onto the end of Ammar Abdulhusain’s cross with his left foot.
It was a brilliant attacking performance from Al Shorta, who doubled the number of goals that they have ever scored in the AFC Cup with this victory. However, their defence still needs some work on as they conceded two poor goals to Fadi Zidan. This win will instil some much-needed confidence into the side and make them believe that they can go on to win the tournament.
AL SHORTA LET ANOTHER LEAD SLIP TO DRAW IN THE AFC CUP YET AGAIN
Al Shorta conceded a sloppy goal as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Jordanian hosts Al Jazeera in Group B of the AFC Cup.
Just like they did in Doha against Al Hidd, Al Shorta made a great start to the game as Marwan Hussein won a penalty within seven minutes which experienced international Mahdi Kareem calmly slotted home to make it 1-0.
But just five minutes later, Al Shorta’s defensive frailties were exposed once more as they conceded a ridiculous equaliser; Waleed Salem failed to intercept a through ball, inadvertently putting the ball on a plate for Al Jazeera’s Franco Alves, who twisted and turned past both Salam Shakir and Mohammed Hameed before squeezing the ball past Hameed’s near post. The defending was truly shambolic and seemed to affect the morale of the players.
The second-half was once again goalless with Al Shorta and Al Jazeera sharing possession and chances but with no end product and the game ended 1-1.
The other group game between Al Hidd and Taraji Wadi Al Nes also finished 1-1, putting all four of the teams in the group on two points after two games.
Al Shorta have now played eight AFC Cup games in their history and have drawn six of them; Al Shorta will have to turn these draws into victories very soon if they want to lift the trophy.
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AL SHORTA GRAB ALL THREE POINTS IN BAGHDAD DERBY AGAINST AL TALABA
A first-half brace from in-form striker Marwan Hussein saw Al Shorta overcome Al Talaba by two goals to one in an exciting affair at Al Shaab Stadium.
Al Shorta took the lead ten minutes into the game as Waleed Salem’s corner evaded three Al Talaba defenders and fell to Marwan who fired it into the top corner.
Twelve minutes later, Dhurgham Ismail’s free-kick was met by Salam Shakir whose header fell to Marwan, who slotted home from a tight angle to get his and his side’s second of the game.
Al Shorta were dominating the game, but sloppily allowed last season’s top scorer Ali Salah Hashim to grab a goal back for Al Talaba just before half-time as they failed to defend a corner properly and allowed Salah a tap-in from a couple of yards out.
Talaba pressed and pressed for an equaliser in the second period but the
champions and group leaders Al Shorta held firm to secure their ninth win of
the season which puts them on 29 points after eleven games, twelve points ahead
of Baghdad S.C. with two games in hand over last season's third-placed team.
AL SHORTA QUALIFY FOR FINAL STAGE DESPITE GOALLESS DRAW
Al Shorta have mathematically qualified for the final stage of the 2014-15 Iraqi League, despite Al Najaf holding the reigning champions to a goalless draw at An Najaf Stadium for the second straight season.
The first-half was a tense affair with very few chances created and both sides losing the ball frequently; Mahdi Kareem had the best chance of the game but his effort was saved by former Al Shorta custodian Nebras Salman.
The second-half was no different; Al Shorta manager Mohamed Youssef tried to change the game by bringing on attackers Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Ammar Abdulhusain but the outcome of the game was unaffected as the match ended 0-0.
Al Shorta are well in front of Group B with 26 points and are officially through to the next round, and the next target for Al Shorta will be to top the group unbeaten.
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AL SHORTA LET TWO-GOAL LEAD SLIP IN AFC CUP OPENER
Goals from Brazilian forward Rico and Jassim Ayyash cancelled out two early Al Shorta goals as Bahraini outfit Al Hidd earned a point against Iraqi champions Al Shorta in the opening matchday of the 2015 AFC Cup group stage.
Two minutes into the game, Caion won Al Shorta a penalty which right-back Waleed Salem duly converted to give Al Shorta the lead, and Amjad Kalaf doubled their lead eleven minutes later, firing Caion’s cut-back into the back of the net.
Al Shorta had got off to the perfect start and showed Asia how much of a threat they can be going forward - but also showcased their defensive liabilities as they conceded two goals in the next 33 minutes.
The 28th minute saw the first of those as Ahmed Al Khattal capitalised on Salam Shakir’s error to cross for Rico, whose tame effort found a way past Mohammed Hameed in goal.
Al Hidd equalised in first-half injury time as substitute Jassim Ayyash tapped into an open goal from a cross that had rolled underneath Hameed.
The second-half was far more subdued as neither side wanted to concede, and the game ended 2-2.
It is a disappointing result for Al Shorta who, if they are to win the AFC Cup as many fans expect them to, should be defeating a team like Al Hidd, especially with a two-goal lead.
All four teams in the group are on one point as Al Jazeera drew 1-1 with Taraji Wadi Al Nes in the other group game.
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GROUP 2 LEADERS AL SHORTA BREEZE PAST NAFT MISAN IN FIFTH STRAIGHT VICTORY
Marwan Hussein scored a first-half brace as Iraqi League champions Al Shorta produced a scintillating first-half display to outclass Naft Misan and record a resounding 3-0 victory over them at the Al Maimuna Stadium.
Young Iraq international midfielder Mahdi Kamil scored the first goal on eight minutes with what was his first goal of the season, firing the ball into the bottom-left corner from just inside the area. Striker Marwan Hussein made it two-goals-to-nil fifteen minutes later when he headed in a corner from Dhurgham Ismail (who was captaining Al Shorta for the first time in the absence of Amjad Kalaf and Hussein Abdul Wahid).
The Iraq striker bagged another on 37 minutes when he was put through on goal by Mahdi Kamil's pass, firing the ball past the 'keeper at the near post to make it three.
Already three goals up, Al Shorta took it easy in the second-half, maintaining their three-goal lead until the final whistle. Al Shorta are comfortably sitting on top of Group 2 and only need a few more points to secure their passage into the final stage.
Al Shorta must now turn their attention towards the AFC Cup, with the Police kicking off their AFC Cup campaign in Qatar against Bahraini side Al Hidd on 24/02/2015.
ALAA ABDUL-ZAHRA BRACE SEES AL SHORTA OPEN UP SIX POINT GAP AT TOP OF GROUP 2
Two goals from Alaa Abdul-Zahra helped Al Shorta defeat Baghdad S.C. for the second time in eight days to go six points ahead of them in Group 2 having played two games fewer.
Al Shorta dominated the game from start to finish, and on 13 minutes Caion believed he had opened the scoring when he fired in a great effort into the top corner, but he was adjudged to have been offside by the linesman in what was a debatable decision.
Amjad Kalaf missed a golden opportunity a few minutes later when he fired a cut-back way over the bar, before seeing another effort go wide in an attempt to score his first goal of the season.
Al Shorta broke the deadlock with 19 minutes on the clock, when Dhurgham Ismail's cross was met by Alaa Abdul-Zahra who coolly lifted it over Iraq international goalkeeper Jalal Hassan and into the net.
They continued their domination into the second-half and Caion, who had another inspired performance, almost doubled the lead when he went through on goal but his effort rolled wide. Alaa scored his second of the game on 68 minutes when Caion brilliantly brought the ball down and laid it off perfectly for Alaa to skilfully blast the ball into the bottom left corner of the net and make it two.
Baghdad S.C. were gifted a way back into the game when 'keeper Mohammed Gassid was sent off for a collision with Redha Nasrallah and Lebanese player Mohammad Fawzi tucked home the resulting penalty, but Al Shorta held on for the three points as Ahmed Fadhel, currently on loan at Baghdad S.C. from Al Shorta, received a second yellow card in the third minute of injury time and substitute Marwan Hussein saw a brilliant effort saved by Jalal Hassan at the end of the game.
Al Shorta, top of Group 2, are now six points ahead of Baghdad S.C., who are in second, with Al Shorta having played eight games and Baghdad S.C. having played ten. Duhok are in third place with fifteen points from eight games (seven fewer than the Police) and Al Shorta only need to finish in the top four of the group to advance to the final stage.
ALAA AND DHURGHAM ENSURE AL SHORTA DEFEAT AL MINAA AGAIN AND REMAIN IN FIRST PLACE
Al Shorta defeated Al Minaa 2-0 in their first game outside of Baghdad all season, as goals from Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Dhurgham Ismail succumbed Al Minaa to their second defeat against the champions in one week.
After just eight minutes, Alaa Abdul-Zahra bagged his third goal of the season, glancing a great header over the 'keeper and into the net from Mahdi Kareem's cross.
However, it was Al Minaa who had the best chances in the game, and Al Shorta had goalkeeper Mohammed Hameed to thank for keeping the scoreline at 1-0.
2015 AFC Asian Cup star Dhurgham Ismail perhaps underservedly doubled Al Shorta's lead on 70 minutes with a brilliant goal as he accompanied a bursting run into the box with a calm left-footed finish.
Al Shorta held out for the victory, and maintained their position at the top of Group 2.
AL SHORTA TOP GROUP 2 AS TWO SET PIECE GOALS SECURE VICTORY OVER BAGHDAD S.C.
A Dhurgham Ismail penalty and Akram Jassim's first goal for Al Shorta were enough to defeat title rivals Baghdad S.C. 2-0 and leapfrog Duhok into first place in Group 2.
The first-half ended goalless, despite both sides sharing a host of good chances. Midfielder Ahmed Fadhel, currently on loan at Baghdad S.C. from Al Shorta, saw his long-range effort beat Mohammed Gassid but strike the outside of the post, whilst Al Shorta's Brazilian forward Caion saw his effort go wide and Makadji Boukar's powerful shot flew just over the bar for the champions.
Egyptian manager Mohamed Youssef took off Amjad Kalaf at the start of the second-half, replacing him with Marwan Hussein, but it was right-back Waleed Salem who won a penalty for Al Shorta as he was brought down when through on goal. Dhurgham Ismail coolly stepped up and slotted it to the 'keeper's left, just as he did against Iran in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, to put Al Shorta 1-0 up on 62 minutes.
Cameroonian midfielder Makadji Boukar missed a great opportunity to double Al Shorta's lead when he was put through on goal by Mahdi Kamil, but Al Shorta did eventually find a second in the first minute of injury time when youngster Akram Jassim headed in his first goal for the club from Waleed Salem's corner.
This win sees Al Shorta go a point above Duhok at the top of Group 2, having played a game fewer.
AL SHORTA MOVE INTO SECOND IN GROUP 2 WITH WIN OVER AL MINAA
Caion bagged his first goal for Al Shorta as the champions returned to action with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Basra club Al Minaa at Baghdad S.C. Stadium.
With 25 minutes on the clock, Caion received a pass from Dhurgham Ismail and with his left foot, he fired it across the 'keeper and into the net to put Al Shorta a goal up.
The Brazilian striker, arguably man of the match, continued his brilliant performance into the second-half and played a big part in Al Shorta's second goal on 49 minutes.
His header from captain Amjad Kalaf's cross was parried by the goalkeeper into the path of Iraq international defender Salam Shakir, who smashed the rebound into the back of the net to put the game almost beyond doubt.
Salam went from hero to villain however as his handball gifted Al Minaa an injury-time penalty, which Hussein Ali Wahid duly converted, but it was too little, too late from Al Minaa as Al Shorta moved into second place in Group 2, behind Duhok, having played fewer games than every other team in their group.
AL SHORTA SHARE A POINT WITH AL NAFT IN DULL ENCOUNTER AT AL SHAAB
Al Shorta and Al Naft played out a dull goalless draw at a near-empty Al Shaab Stadium on Sunday as Al Shorta continued their impressive run of four clean sheets out of four games.
Most of the game was played in the centre of the park, with both sides frequently losing possession and Al Shorta certainly were not on the top of their game as pass after pass failed to reach their destination. Al Naft clearly went into the game with a plan to try and deceive the referee as players frequently went down feigning injury or hoping for free-kicks or penalties and these antics slowed down the game significantly, not allowing the champions to put together any flowing attacking movements that fans have been accustomed to seeing with Al Shorta.
Al Naft wasted the biggest chance of the game in the last ten minutes, hitting the crossbar, but neither side deserved three points from the game and the two sides shared the spoils, ending Al Shorta's 100% start to the new campaign.
This result puts Al Shorta on 10 points from four games, having played fewer games than all of the other teams in their group.
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AL SHORTA MAINTAIN 100% START TO NEW SEASON WITH COMFORTABLE WIN
Goals from Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Dhurgham Ismail saw Al Shorta ease to a 2-0 victory at Baghdad S.C. Stadium on Monday.
Al Shorta got off to the perfect start against the newly-promoted side with Alaa scoring his second goal in as many games after just three minutes, heading into the back of net after the ball was flicked on from a corner. 21 minutes later Alaa missed a great chance to double Al Shorta's lead, and the champions went into half-time a goal in front.
Al Shorta went 2-0 up on 65 minutes, with Brazilian forward Caion skipping past a defender and playing Dhurgham through on goal who showed composure to delightfully dink the ball over the on-rushing 'keeper. Al Shorta went down to ten men near the end of the game when Makadji Boukar received a second yellow card, but that did not affect the result and Al Shorta could afford a missed chance from Alaa Abdul-Zahra on 85 minutes when his effort crashed against the crossbar.
The full-time whistle blew to signify that Al Shorta had won their third game from three, conceding zero goals in the process. Their next game is against Al Naft at Al Shaab Stadium in six days' time.
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ALAA'S FIRST GOAL SEES AL SHORTA COME OUT ON TOP IN BAGHDAD DERBY
Iraq international Alaa Abdul-Zahra's first competitive goal in an Al Shorta shirt saw Al Shorta overcome Al Talaba at Al Shaab Stadium in the derby.
The first chance of the game fell to Al Talaba's Usamah Ali who saw his free-kick sail just over the bar. The poor surface of the pitch at Al Shaab Stadium led to the sides playing more long balls but Al Shorta slowly began to dominate proceedings and Makadji Boukar missed two great chances either side of a Nashat effort that went wide as the champions asserted their dominance over the game.
Mohamed Youssef took off captain Nashat Akram on 58 minutes and replaced him with Alaa Abdul-Zahra, and the substitute scored the goal that won the game on 62 minutes, just after Ahmed Ayad's powerful shot had smashed the crossbar. Al Shorta had won a corner which was swung in and met by the head of Marwan Hussein. As the ball was looping towards the line, Alaa out-muscled a number of Al Talaba players to nod the ball into the net and open the scoring for the champions. Substitute Caion blazed over for Al Shorta from close range towards the end of the game before Mohamed Youssef brought on defender Ali Bahjat to replace striker Marwan Hussein as the Police saw out the game and made it two wins from two in the Iraqi League.
CHAMPIONS START NEW SEASON WITH 2-0 WIN OVER AL NAJAF
Marwan Hussein scored on his debut for Al Shorta as the champions started the new season with a win against Al Najaf.
The lack of action in the first-half at Baghdad S.C. Stadium could perhaps be explained by the fact that Al Shorta hadn't played a league game since June but by the second-half they were well in the game and new striker Marwan opened the scoring on 62 minutes when he skilfully chested down Mahdi Kamil's lofted ball in the box and finished past the 'keeper.
Ten minutes later, Al Shorta doubled their lead to put the result beyond doubt. Marwan saw his effort parried by the 'keeper, and headed the ball back towards goal where Dhurgham Ismail nodded the ball into the net.
It was a great win for the four-time Iraqi League champions who will face Al Talaba at Al Shaab Stadium in their next game.
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